Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wendell Berry

Friends have raved about Wendell Berry for years, and I have borrowed and skimmed one book (yeah, Eric, I need to return Citizenship Papers), but I had yet to own my own copy. After talking with my sister-in-law at Thanksgiving about different books we loved, she produced two Berry books for me as a Christmas gift. They are both of his poetry and one called, Sabbaths, she said was particularly hard to come by because it was out of print. I was grateful for her search, it is a wonderful book.

As a began reading it though, I noticed the following inscription, "To my friend William- whose person and friendship I treasure. Wishing you the peace of Sabbath days in the year ahead. Happy Birthday '98 Ann."

Wow, a used book with a story- how cool is that. I now feel a little more connected to my human family- as I know concretely that this book was held, and presumably read by other hands and eyes. But I can only wonder what happened to William and to Ann. Although the inscription seems platonic- did they fall madly in love and then have a falling out? William perhaps had to release himself of all memories of Ann. Did William pass away- and family members sold his books- including this one with tender inscription. Did William simply move several times and got tired of packing this book in box after box? Was William a broke college student, or a writer who sold the book for a few bucks? Or did he never really care for Wendell Berry and just simply saw no value in the book (surely this can't be it)?

Like I say, this inscription just serves to remind me that we are connected in ways that we might never know. I have written in many a gift-book and I wonder how many of those have found their way to other hands who do not know me. As the annoying Disney ride says- "Its a small world after all." And we are all surely connected by a God who loves us- if by no other way.

Blessings to you today readers- and pick up some Wendell Berry if you have an opportunity.

From Sabbaths:
I go among the trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on the water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

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